By Dave Jolivet, and news from a Knights’ press release
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Knights of Columbus recently announced that Knights and their families, as well as communities around the world, have rapidly responded to a call for contributions to its Ukraine Solidarity Fund, and supplies are already arriving in Ukraine and Poland to assist displaced families and refugees.
Michael Lesperance, State Deputy of the Knight’s Massachusetts State Council, updated The Anchor saying, “On Friday, February 25, the Knights of Columbus committed $1 million of immediate aid for Ukrainians impacted by the recent Russian invasion. The Order also launched the Ukraine Solidarity Fund, pledging to match all funds raised up to an additional $500,000. So far, the fund has raised more than $2.4 million, for a total of nearly $4 million in assistance. Knights on the ground, meanwhile, are delivering much-needed aid to those in Ukraine, and to those seeking refuge in Poland.”
A press release from the Knights’ headquarters in New Haven, Conn., quoted from a video message by Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly to the more than 1,800 Knights of Columbus in Ukraine in late February; “Some of the proudest moments in the Order’s history have come amid the adversity of war. We are called ‘Knights’ for a reason. There is a reason we count patriotism among our guiding principles. The hour is upon us.”
Lesperance told The Anchor, “The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus have contributed thousands of dollars along with the local councils to the Ukraine Solidarity Fund. This was set up by the Supreme Knight of Columbus, where 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the displaced people of Ukraine.
“Our councils have been praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet and praying the Rosary for the refugees of Ukraine,” Lesperance said. “They have been doing fund-raisers, such as fish fries and pasta dinners. We have been asked by our Council Chaplains to pray for the Ukraine people and our fellow Knights of Ukraine, and to pray for a peaceful end to this war.”
To Donate to the Ukraine Solidarity Fund, here is the link https://www.kofc.org/secure/en/donate/ukraine.html
The Knights’ Ukraine Solidarity Fund website (https://www.kofc.org/en/what-we-do/charity/ukraine.html) said, “The relief funding is already being used to provide supplies and assistance to those in need in both Poland and Ukraine. Through extensive local connections with churches and communities, as well as networks of local Knights and volunteers, essential resources and services are reaching families within hours of donations being received.”
The site listed the many ways the Knights across the country have aided their Ukrainian brothers and sisters through donations, prayers, and some Knights and their families in Poland are taking in refugees themselves.
• Funds are being used to provide shelter, food, medical supplies, clothing and religious goods, as well as other humanitarian needs as identified, both directly in Ukraine and through refugee sites in Poland.
• Knights in Poland have established tents at the Polish-Ukrainian border to distribute food and water to refugees, continuing the spirit of the Order’s “Everybody Welcome, Everything Free,” campaign in Europe at the start of the 20th century.
• The Knights are working with the Latin and Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, with dioceses and councils in Poland, and with international humanitarian aid agencies to address needs quickly and effectively.
• Polish Knights have established collection sites in Kraków, Radom and Tomaszów Lubelski, where they are gathering and packaging medical supplies, warm clothing, and necessities.
• On March 1, an initial semi-load of provisions, warm clothing, and medical supplies arrived in Lviv, Ukraine, where it was met and unloaded by Ukrainian Knights.
• Anticipating a request from the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Knights in Poland have created a database of parishioner homes and parish centers that will host refugees.
• Polish Knights and their families have already received and housed wives and children sent by some Ukrainian Knights across the border.
• Local leaders of the Knights of Columbus in Ukraine, including the state deputy, state secretary and a district deputy, have been appointed part of an “Anti-Crisis Committee,” established by the Archdiocese of Lviv to coordinate and distribute humanitarian aid.
• Based on the Knights’ success in collecting and delivering relief supplies into Ukraine, a number of organizations and companies in Poland have asked to partner with the Knights of Columbus going forward.
Lesperance also shared with The Anchor that “within days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Knights in Poland created a housing network for refugees and delivered essential supplies to the war-torn country. Additionally, Knights set up tents — dubbed ‘mercy huts’ — along the Poland-Ukraine border to welcome refugees escaping the conflict. Meanwhile, Knights in Ukraine have coordinated the distribution of supplies through the ‘Anti-Crisis Committee,’ a group established by the Archdiocese of Lviv.
“‘The attack on Ukraine did cause evil, but at the same time, in many hearts, in many actions of those who reacted, great good was revealed,’ Poland State Deputy Kryzysztof Zuba said. ‘I have great hope that this good will bear fruit and that the war will end as soon as possible.’”
About the Knights of Columbus
In 1882, Blessed Michael McGivney, a young parish priest in New Haven, Conn., founded the Knights of Columbus to serve the needs of a largely immigrant Catholic community. What began as a small fraternal benefit society has since grown into one of the world’s leading international charitable organizations, with two million members in more than 16,000 local councils.
During the past year, Knights around the world donated more than 47 million service hours and $150 million for worthy causes in their communities. The Knights of Columbus also offers extensive life insurance products to members and their families.
Based on the founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity, the Order remains committed to strengthening Catholic families and parishes and to practicing faith in action through service to all in need.
To learn more or to join the Knights of Columbus, please visit kofc.org/join.